Less than 5% of visitors to Uluru ever witness rain falling on Uluru. This is the story of how I was lucky enough to capture rare footage of waterfalls on Uluru.
6 September 2015, we spent the morning exploring a number of trails around the base of Uluru. If I had one word to describe Uluru it would be BIG, Uluru is a behemoth. Standing at its base is simply awe inspiring, a huge mass of red sandstone reaches for hundreds of metres (348m) into the sky. From a distance its size is deceptive, the only way to really appreciate Uluru’s massive stature is to walk up to its base.
The midday temperatures were now approaching 32 degrees. We decided to head out of the park and shoot some distance shots of Uluru from the top of a sand dune back at Yulara. The day had now turned overcast and the wind was beginning to pick up. I drove to a sand dune on the outskirts of Yulara. When I arrived at the top of the sand dune I was greeted by 2 locals, who pointed in the direction of Uluru “its raining on Uluru… see the two tones?” In the distance Uluru was a deep red colour with a greyish cap over the top. I hadn’t even realised that rain was falling in the distance. I quickly set up my camera, captured a couple of distant shots then headed back to the car. I had to get back to Uluru.
Once in the car the intense storm front hit, visibility suddenly dropped and the wind was howling. With windscreen wipers on full and driving as quickly as possible I soon arrived at the park entry gate. There were three vehicles in front of me and the lead one looked like they were having an in-depth conversation with the attendant. After what felt like an eternity I was finally through the gate and heading as quickly as I could for Uluru. As I approached Uluru the wind and rain suddenly subsided to a very light sprinkling. I turned onto the circuit road then Uluru emerged from behind the vegetation growth covered with white trails of falling water. That first close up view looking up at this massive monolith covered with slender white cascading waterfalls literally took my breath away. Now all I had to do was film it.
Driving along the ring road I was unable to pull over at the best spots due to No Stopping and No Photography areas. I continued on as the rain now subsided and the skies began to clear. Time was running out, this would soon be over and I hadn’t yet taken one shot. More no stopping zones intermittently broken by flooded causeways. As I rounded another bend I finally found somewhere safe (and legal) to pull over. I jumped out of the car, set up the tripod, mounted the camera and started capturing footage. Wide shots, mid shots, close ups, no time to waste, time to move on. I jumped back into the car and moved on looking for better angles.
I drove further along the ring road when from behind the trees emerged the big waterfall at Kantju Gorge. It was spectacular, just the shot I had been looking for, but the only place I could film it was from the No Stopping area. A 4×4 police car had just pulled up behind an illegally stopped car ahead of me. I drove past hoping there may be somewhere further along the road where I could film… there wasn’t. I did a quick U-turn and headed back hoping that the Police vehicle might have moved on … but it was still there. The female Police officer was now out of the car speaking with the owner of the vehicle… of all the rotten luck… As I neared the Police vehicle I noticed that the officer was actually filming the waterfall herself on her smartphone and chatting casually with the occupant of the other vehicle. That was good enough enough for me. I pulled up just past them, quickly jumped out, set up the tripod and captured the shots of the big waterfall at Kantju Gorge. The Police officer smiled at me then jumped back in the car and drove off up the road.
Within 10 minutes the waterfalls had subsided and the sunlight shone through again. As the skies cleared a “quiet” descended on the desert. The cars had all gone now, there was almost no noise apart from distant thunder rumbling and the noise of bush crickets quietly chirping all around. The sunlight captured the water droplets on the trees reflecting like golden jewels. I captured a couple of post rainfall shots then drove back to Yulara.
Watch the full video of Waterfalls on Uluru